Eugene Turner Funk, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Eugene Turner Funk

EUGENE TURNER FUNK. Among the leading citizens and officials of Porter county, Indiana, whose name deserves a conspicuous place in this history is Mr. Eugene Turner Funk, who for many years has been most intimately identified with the more important affairs of the life of the community and has been since 1906 the efficient superintendent of the Porter County Asylum. The history of the Funk family, extending over several centuries of known events, alone makes an interesting narrative, but one that we can only briefly sketch in this work.

Mr. Funk traces his lineage back to the time when the family were citizens of the republic of Switzerland, and where authenticity can not be established tradition takes up the story. According to the traditional story there was at one time formed in Switzerland a religious sect, one of the chief tenets of the order being contained in a clause in the constitution or by-laws forbidding marriage to any of the members. Finally a portion of this aggregation of religious tolerants made its way into Germany and upon settling in that country those who previously had lived under the name of Spark arbitrarily changed the cognomen to Funcke. Thus the name continued to be designated for a long period, then in the process of emigration and evolution governing families and names the final "e" was eventually dropped and still later the spelling was changed, eliminating the letter "c," so that today the family which is identified with American life and history is known as Funk.

The Funk family in the United States is a numerous one and traces its lineage in this country back to early settlement of the republic. That branch of the family with which this history has to do, however, and of which Eugene Turner Funk is one of its most interesting representatives in this generation we shall attempt to chronicle the life of as it pertains to the descendants of Isaiah Funk. Isaiah Funk was a pioneer settler in McLean county, Illinois, and when he first went to that section the present beautiful, metropolitan city of Bloomington, with its nearly thirty thousand inhabitants, was a mere hamlet made up of a handful of sturdy pioneers. Mr. Funk owned an immense tract of land in that county, his property covering the greater portion of a township's space, and the family name was perpetuated in that part of the country and its memory established to all posterity by the official designation of that part of the county as Funk's Grove township.

Eugene Turner Funk is a lineal descendant of that family, although at the time of his birth the immediate branch of which he is a member had changed its residence to Ohio. Mr. Funk was born in Champaign county, Ohio, June 19, 1857, in order of birth the fourth in a family of five children, consisting of four sons and one daughter. His parents were Jacob Sensenney and Sarah Glasgow (Long) Funk and their entire family of children is still living, well illustrating the virility of the line. Also they are citizens of influence and distinction in the communities in which they reside and are worthy representatives of a proud family.

The oldest son, Leander W. Funk, has been for nearly half a century a trusted employe of the United States government at Washington, D. C., and now fills the responsible position of chief clerk in the office of the third assistant auditor. The faithful manner in which he has at all times discharged his official duties and the great length of his service give him recognition as one to be assigned to the more important lines of the work and he spends a great deal of his time traveling on official business. He was highly educated in his youth and early manhood, having attended the seminary at Urbana, Ohio, and later completed a course of the Columbia Law School in Washington, D. C., graduating therefrom with high credits. With commendable courage and patriotic motives he enlisted in the army at the outbreak of the Civil war, but finally yielded to the entreaties of his revered mother, because of his age of fifteen, and did not go to the front. He has lived a well rounded life and always identified himself with the best elements of society. In fraternal circles he has attained a high degree in the Masonic order.

The second son, Theodore Kenoga, is at the present time a prominent citizen and well known criminal lawyer of Portsmouth, Ohio, and devotes himself closely to the practice of his profession, in which he has achieved so much distinction. He is a graduate of the Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio, and read law with Judge Lawrence, of Bellefontaine, Ohio. He at one time filled the honorable position of comptroller of the treasury. He, as well as his older brother, is a man of family, and is a member of several prominent fraternal orders.

The only daughter of the family, Rovilla Augusta, was also the recipient of an unusually good education and in her girlhood was a student at the seminary in Urbana and latter attended the Ladies' Female Seminary at Delaware, Ohio. She is an active member of the Methodist Episcopal church and now resides on the old family homestead in Champaign county.

James Long Funk, the youngest member of the family, chose to devote his career to commercial pursuits and occupies an influential position in the business world as an extensive grain merchant at West Liberty, Ohio, where he owns a big warehouse and extends his operations to include the purchase and sale of coal, seeds, etc. He is known by all his associates as a man of substantial standing and strict honesty and is an important factor in the social and civic life of the city in which he resides. He was educated at the high school of Urbana, graduating as valedictorian of his class. His home life is ideal; he is a liberal supporter of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he holds membership; and belongs to the Masonic order and has taken high degrees in that fraternal organization.

The father of this family, which also includes Eugene Turner Funk, was a native of Frederick City, Maryland, where he was born February 1, 1815, his death occuring in Ohio, March 18, 1897. His boyhood advantages in an educational way were scant and he accordingly educated himself through exhaustive reading and close observation. A high order of natural ability was his inheritance and in argument he was no mean antagonist, his information being extensive and his power of expressing himself convincing to his hearers. His political beliefs aligned him with the Republican party and in the discussion of politic he took especial delight. It was his privilege to cast his first vote for the first Republican nominee for the presidency, John C. Fremont, and he also contemplated with pride the part that he had been able to vote for the incomparable Lincoln, as well as that splendid statesman, Blaine. In religious and social life he took a great interest at all times, and gave generously of his time and means toward the support of the Methodist church, of which both he and his wife were devout members throughout their well spent lives. Fraternally Mr. Funk, senior, was affiliated with the Masonic lodge. He was a man who took great pride and comfort in his home life and family and the keystone of his life and character was honesty and integrity. To his children he left a heritage of an unsullied name and the memory of a life nobly lived, and his death was mourned by the entire community in which he lived and performed so many commendable deeds.

Mr. and Mrs. Funk were married June 13, 1844. She was born at Hagenbaugh Station, near Urbana, Ohio, August 24, 1822, and was the daughter of James and Martha (Turner) Long. A common school education was her portion in an educational way and practically the whole of her life was spent in the community in which she was born. She was a woman of beautiful character, kindly and sympathetic to all humanity, devoted to her children and deeply religious. The poor and needy were never turned empty handed from her door and the warmth of her smile and comfort of her sweet voice cheered many a discouraged traveler on the way of life. She and her husband were ideal companions throughout their long journey together. She survived Mr. Funk many years, her demise occurring March 25, 1909, and her loss was keenly felt by her surviving children and multitudes of friends.

Such was the parentage of Eugene Turner Funk, and the foregoing account also gives a hint of the character of his surroundings in his youth. He was reared to manhood in Ohio, where also he secured his very excellent education. After completing work in the common schools near his home he entered the high school at West Liberty, and from there went to a Covenanter college, located at West Geneva, for two years. It was his original intention to adopt a commercial career and in furtherance of this desire went to Cincinnati and took a complete business course at Nelson's Business College. Upon securing his diploma from the college he sought and secured a position as an expert accountant in Cincinnati. He later resigned from that place and then returned to the old homestead and for three years subsequently he and one of his brothers conducted the farm. At the end of that period he entered the United States government railway mail service and was on the run between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh for two years. This was during the time when the great floods in that section prevailed and caused so much trouble and loss.

The marriage of Mr. Funk to Miss Lulu Nell Johnson, of North East, Pennsylvania, took place February 14, 1884. Two children were born of this union. The oldest, James Maurice, met with a sad misfortune when ten years of age and was drowned on the World's Fair Grounds at Chicago, on June 21, 1895. The younger son, Neil Eugene, is now a fine young man and his parents are educating him to take a high place in professional life. He was first sent to the public school at Chesterton, Indiana, then to the Valparaiso high school, from which he graduated in 1908. After receiving his high school diploma he attended the University of Valparaiso for two years, then matriculated at the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery, which institution is connected with the Valparaiso University, and is now a student of the Chicago institution, specializing in surgery. He is an athlete of more than ordinary merit and holds the record for high jumping in this county. A young man of serious purpose and exemplary character he shares the ambition of his parents to become distinguished in his chosen lifework and the future doubtless holds for him a brilliant career.

Mrs. Funk is a native of Erie county, Pennsylvania, where she was born January 1, 1863, the daughter of James Sprague and Nancy Blaine (Childs) Johnson. Her ancestors were among the first settlers in the United States and some of her progenitors were soldiers in the Revolutionary war, giving her eligibility to membership in the Martha Washington Society. Her father was born in Maryland, May 20, 1813, and when a young boy accompanied his father to Chautauqua county, New York. His business was that of paper manufacturer, in which line he achieved great success. He also interested himself in a large way with numerous other industrial projects and had the distinction of being the first man to bore for gas in Erie county, Pennsylvania, and was the first successful producer of that product in the county. His home was as modern and up-to-date as the latest improvements could make it and was one of the first to be heated and lighted with gas. Mr. Johnson was a shrewd politician and an ardent advocate of Republican principles, clever and forceful in argument and was often elected as delegate to county and state conventions to represent the interests of the people in his community at those important partisan gatherings. Mr. Johnson lived to the good old age of seventy-five years and died in Erie county, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1887, deeply mourned by all.

Mrs. Johnson came originally from Chautauqua county, New York, where she was born July 13, 1820. She was reared and educated in New York and Pennsylvania and was a woman of exceptionally fine attributes, who was loved by all who knew her. Her interest in religious matters was deep and sincere, as was also that of her husband, they being faithful communicants of the Methodist Episcopal church. Previous to her death, January 2, 1906, she was one of five surviving original founders of the church to which she belonged.

Mrs. Funk was the youngest of six children and all of her brothers and sisters are living at this time. Carrie Clarissa, the oldest of the family, graduated from the old North Academy at North East and is prominent in social and religious circles at North East, of which place she is a resident and where she belongs to the Episcopal church and the Phillamos Club. Cassius U. is a retired grape culturist of North East. His daughter, Maude Haynes Johnson, is and has been for seven years an accomplished teacher of schools at Salisbury Park, New Jersey; Helen M. is the wife of J. B. Parker, a machinist in the employ of the Pipe & Fitting Company at Erie, Pennsylvania. Harriet F. is married to F. P. Taylor, of Jacksonville, Illinois, a well known and successful commercial traveler. Their three sons all are married. Matilda is the widow of Frank C. Mills and is a resident of North East, her home bring on a fine fruit farm.

Mrs. Funk, as previously mentioned, the youngest in her family, was reared and educated in her native home and is a graduate of the Lake Shore Seminary. Her talent in music is pronounced and she acquired much proficiency in that art, while her general culture and native refinement are evidenced in numberless ways. Her religious connection is with the Episcopal church, while Mr. Funk is a member of the Methodist denomination.

After Mr. and Mrs. Funk were married they went to the middle west and located at Burlingame, Kansas, remaining there four years. In 1889 they became residents of Chicago, in which city Mr. Funk for two years held the responsible position of superintendent of the largest vinegar factory in the world at that time. Resigning that connection, he next accepted the superintendency of the Chicago offices of the Pasteur Chamberlain Filter Company of Dayton, Ohio, and was with this latter firm for eight years, including the World's Fair period. Mr. Funk left Chicago in 1896 and located at Chesterton, Indiana, and was an agent there for a period extending up to about five years ago. He is of an active and energetic disposition and his aggressive business methods have contributed greatly to his success throughout his life.

H was in 1906 that Mr. Funk received the appointment of superintendent of the Porter County Asylum, his incumbency in the office dating prior to the occupation of the new building in which the institution is now installed. Since he and his wife have taken hold of the management of the institution it has become known as one of the best conducted and equipped in Indiana, having no superior in these respects and but a single rival for supremacy. The home has all modern appliances and conveniences necessary to the comfort and well being of its inmates, of whom there are about twenty at the present time, and in his work here Mr. Funk has the hearty support of the entire population of Porter county, his efficiency in the position being universally recognized as a cause for public congratulation.

The institution is conducted with uniform excellent management and any citizen or official may call and inspect the place at any time, without a scintilla of prospect of finding things in any but the most excellent condition, and no cause for criticism by even the most rancorous could be found. Mrs. Funk, with her tact and pleasing personality, has assisted much in maintaining the standing and stability of the Infirmary under the superintendency of her husband. Mr. and Mrs. Funk are the happy possessors of the most genial and cordial manners and their residence is open at all times for the entertainment of their many friends.

An instance of their large heartedness is shown in the fact that they have generously taken into their home a little four-year-old girl, Maxine Virginia, on whom they shower all the love and tenderness that the real parents of the child could bestow.

In political affairs Mr. Funk is an advocate of the principles of the Republican party, and exerts all the influence he possesses to advance the interests of the organization in its best aspects, his activity in local matters being pronounced. He cast his first presidential vote for the martyred Garfield and has supported each Republican candidate since that time. He is a man of deeds and not words only, fearless and intelligent and never hesitates to give hearty support to the cause of right and justice as he sees it. We are pleased to present this account of his life to be preserved in the general record of the History of Porter County, Indiana.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 507-515

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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